Streatham-Croydon dig in for the future at Frant Road

RUGBY ROUND-UP: Redevelopment work on Streatham-Croydon’s stand and changing rooms has begun in earnest at Frant Road this week following a “breaking the ground” ceremony after the last home league game of the season against Old Rutlishians.

Breaking up: With muddied players watching on, Rob Hardy, Steve O'Connell (second left), Dick Towers and Brian Dickens get Streatham and Croydon's redevelopment work underway at Frant Road

Breaking up: With muddied players watching on, Rob Hardy, Steve O’Connell (second left), Dick Towers and Brian Dickens get Streatham-Croydon’s redevelopment work underway at Frant Road

Steve O’Connell, the London Assembly Member for Croydon and Sutton, Rob Hardy and Brian Dickens of Croydon Sport for Social Change, and the rugby club’s president Dick Towers were all there to mark the occasion on a freezing afternoon in Thornton Heath.

The Streatham-Croydon  players, many of whom were shivering in the bitter cold after having just beaten Old Ruts 17-0 in Surrey 2, witnessed the occasion before taking their final showers in the current building, showers that were to take a long time as they were all absolutely covered in mud thanks to the beautiful weather we are having.

Work on the stand will continue over the summer as the club looks to provide facilities that will help in the recruitment and retention of players. The work is due to be complete in time for the start of the new season.

Grants from Sita Waste (£60,000), the Mayor’s Legacy Fund (£70,000) and Sport England (£50,000) have given the club the funds they need for the first stage of the Community Sports Hub to go ahead.

“This fantastic news shows that working with key partners such as Sita Trust and the Mayor’s Legacy Fund will enable development of a significant facility in a high priority area of Croydon and will provide a sustainable community benefit,” O’Connell said.

Towers, who is acknowledged as being the life and soul of Streatham-Croydon, said: “This project is exactly what the Mayor’s Legacy Fund was created for, giving local communities the first-class facilities to play and enjoy sport. We are a volunteer-led club that has shown it can build links with schools and other volunteer groups and I am immensely proud of what we have achieved.”

The Surrey 2 game which preceded the ceremony was played in a blizzard, with Streatham-Croydon seeking to end a four-match losing streak. A try by Tom Watson, converted by Chris Geary after 15 minutes was the sole score until five minutes before the final whistle, as outstanding Streatham-Croydon defence refused to give the visitors a sniff of the try-line as Old Ruts played with the advantage of the biting wind at their backs in the second half.

Eventually some storming surges by Olly Goldsmith and Simon Hampton dragged the hosts upfield and there they camped for the rest of the half.

Streatham-Croydon scored their second try after Geary – who had controlled proceedings along with half-back partner Dan Markevics – gave up on trying to run through Old Ruts and instead sent a grubber kick through and dabbed the ball down for the score.

Muddy marvel: Old Ruts defenders try to get to grips with Streatham-Croydon's Ollie Goldsmith at Frant Road last weekend

Muddy marvel: Old Ruts defenders try to get to grips with Streatham-Croydon’s Olly Goldsmith at Frant Road last weekend. Picture by Stephen Lynch

After seeing the tactic work so well once, wing Vincent Auguiste decided to repeat the feat and was rewarded with a try of his own as Streatham-Croydon finished the game – and their competitive season – strongly.

FOUR DIVISIONS above Streatham-Croydon, Warlingham endured a similarly Arctic blast in their game at Brighton, and were crushed by the London and South-East 2SE league leaders 45-9 in a game played on an astroturf training pitch.

With Brighton unassailable at the top of the table, the fixture was always going to be a tough task for the visitors, but it was made virtually impossible by the decision of the referee to red card Warlingham hooker James Delderfield after 18 minutes for a deliberate trip on a Brighton player.

Until this point Warlingham had been pressing hard and earned an early penalty converted by full-back Mark Kozminski.

The teams swapped penalties and Warlingham, despite the man down, continued to pressurise the home side with crunching tackles from No8 Ollie Dodwell and lock Nick Ray. A forward pass saw Brighton blast down the left flank but centre Alex Skinner saved the day with a corner flag tackle. The Brighton forwards secured the ball and when Warlingham ran out of defenders the converted try followed and Brighton had their cold noses in front.

Brighton infringed frequently and from one such penalty Kozminski slotted his third penalty to bring Warlingham within one point.

Early in the second half, a Brighton player was only yellow-carded for repeated punching and back on level terms in manpower, for a while it looked as if Warlingham would pull the game out of the bag. But injuries to Tom Street, Dodwell and Jon Osborne meant that substitutes were utilised earlier than might have been liked.

The defensive efforts of Warlingham’s 14 men took its toll and as their players faded in the final quarter, Brighton’s power play and slick backs came good and they ran in a further four unanswered tries.

On Saturday, Warlingham and several other local teams will take part in the 52nd Annual Old Caterhamians Sevens, with their penultimate league fixture of the season, at Hamsey Green against Sevenoaks, on April 6.

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